Playtime does not have to be over just because childhood has ended. As a transgender man and a recovering addict and alcoholic, my playtime has only just begun! I am well aware that l can be ridiculous at times. I get easily excited when visiting new places and seeing new things. The slightest thing, a newborn lamb, a soaring seagull, a beautiful flower, any of these can cause me to bounce around with excitement like Tigger.
People often comment on my childlike nature and boundless energy. I think I’m a bit like Marmite, to be honest. My bouncy energy is either cute and endearing or unbecoming and annoying! It’s not my fault, I am brand new, reborn and very excited to be here. Here are five reasons why!
1. I have only been awake since 2010
There was no playtime before 2010; I was a miserable, drunk and stoned mess. I was sleepwalking through my life, numbing myself in a desperate attempt to escape myself.
Not only was I asleep in being anaesthetized with alcohol and weed, but I was also asleep within my soul. I was self-absorbed, I wallowed in self-pity and blamed everything outside myself for the pain I felt.
When I walked into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (by some miracle I still cannot fully explain) and became clean and sober, my entire perspective changed. I had a dramatic paradigm shift in how I saw the world and my place in it and how I responded to life. With this awakening came a profound gratitude and a desire to make the most of every day.
2. I didn’t start (The correct) puberty until 2011
With a clear head, I was able to get to the bottom of my mental health issues. Surprisingly, (at the time at least, though now I can see it has always been glaringly obvious!) gender dysphoria turned out to be the primary cause of my emotional distress. Despite being assigned female at birth, I was, in fact, a transgender male. With the support of my recovery program, I was able to find the courage and the support to come out and begin gender transition.
The experience of watching my body change with hormones and surgery is one I cannot adequately describe in words. I am in constant delight at my newly revealed body. The ever-changing reflection in the mirror never ceases to make me grin.
3. I am experiencing the world anew
The combination of my awakening and the birth of my true self, means I am experiencing many things for the first time.
The world is no longer viewed through a hazy filter now I am clean and sober. I see things in crisp bright technicolour. I often stare in awe at an autumn leaf dancing its way across the sky or at an entire field of grass blowing in the wind like fresh green waves, because it is so arresting to my newly awakened senses.
4. My body feels like home for the first time
I started drinking at the age of thirteen, which meant I didn’t learn how to understand or manage my emotions, I drowned them. Now sober, I am also feeling things for the first time. The depth of feeling I have now is exquisitely varied and intense.
Not only am I feeling emotions, but I am also feeling my entire body. Before I transitioned, my body had been a source of pain, and I dealt with this by detaching from it. Now sober, I am present in my body for the first time in my life.
The body is the centre of everything we experience. Therefore, when you are not present, you miss so much. Now I am embodied, I can feel both my internal emotions and the external world interacting with my body. The way my partner’s voice moves through my chest, making my heart swell with joy or the way music penetrates every pore of my being and animates my body. I had no idea I had been missing out on so much.
5. I am allowing myself the playtime I missed out on
It is thrilling to be awake and to be my true self. I’m learning things and doing things at the age of forty-four that most people do in their childhood. I can look at this in two ways. The first is to see these as wasted years and be sad and angry. Had I realised I am trans earlier in life, I would have had the chance to be a young man rather than a middle-aged one.
The second way to look at this is to focus on making the most of the years I still have left to live. That’s not to say I deny myself the grief, acknowledging it is crucial. However, being bitter and angry will only waste more precious time. Instead, I deal with the grief by transforming its energy from sadness into a determination to suck the marrow out of life.
This is why I come across an overgrown child and also why I make no apologies for being so! I have a second chance at life. I might be forty-four and my childhood a distant memory, but I can actively choose for my playtime to be right here and right now.
What about yourselves? Have you overcome a difficult time and are making up for it now? Are you just a big kid at heart and proud? What are the ways you make sure you keep playtime in your life? Let me know in the comments below!
Finlay Games is the founder of The Recovery Writer and the host of Finntheinfinncible. He is a freelance writer and speaker for hire, who advocates, informs and inspires on topics of mental health, recovery, gender transition, and sexuality.